There is no question that the persistent COVID-19 global pandemic is keeping our lives turned upside-down. Yet, most people are finding their new normal, which includes replacing their vehicles. Operating an auto dealership safely during COVID-19 requires a new set of cleaning procedures that ensure the safety of your customers and employees without interfering with your operations.
Cleaning and Disinfecting the Auto Dealership Facility
According to the CDC, cleaning is the use of a soap or detergent solution to remove dirt and germs from a surface. Rather than killing germs, cleaning reduces the quantity of germs present, thereby lowering the risk of infection by contact. By comparison, disinfecting is the use of chemicals to kill germs after cleaning. This lowers the spread of infection by contact even further. (Also see our blog What is the difference between cleaning and sanitizing?
Auto dealerships need to clean and disinfect their facilities more thoroughly and frequently than before. Here are the recommended cleaning processes for operating your auto dealership safely during COVID-19.
Daily cleaning routines are the basic housekeeping duties that keep your dealership looking and smelling clean under any circumstances. They include cleaning or wiping surfaces with limited use of chemical disinfectants. Extra attention is generally given to restrooms and other high-traffic areas.
Enhanced cleaning involves the use of CDC and EPA-approved disinfectant cleaners on “high touch” surfaces with regular frequency. High-touch surfaces include doorknobs, railings, handles, light switches, elevator buttons. Bathroom toilets, faucets, and sinks, as well as breakroom refrigerators, microwaves, and tables are also included. Be sure to read the directions on product labels, as many products advise keeping the surface wet for a time. Many product labels advise adequate ventilation when they are used.
For enhanced cleaning of hard surfaces, the CDC further advises that household bleach may be used for surfaces that are colorfast. In these situations, unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. The recommended bleach solution is 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons bleach to one quart of water. Leave the solution on the surface being disinfected for at least one minute or let dry naturally. An alcohol solution of least 70% alcohol is also a proven disinfectant. Hydrogen peroxide is thought to kill coronavirus as well and may be less of an irritant. Never mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar or other cleaning solutions. Spray it undiluted on the surface to be cleaned, allowing the surface to remain wet for a minute.
Soft surfaces such as carpeted floor or draperies can be cleaned with an EPA-registered household disinfectant or soap and water. Items that can be laundered should be washed using the warmest recommended setting and dried thoroughly.
This step goes above and beyond enhanced cleaning and includes disinfecting items such as desks, chairs, phones, printers, keyboards, touch screens, file cabinets, and shared items like salt and pepper shakers and coffee machines.
It is strongly recommended that you have a conversation with your commercial auto dealership cleaning company to verify that they are up to date on the COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting requirements in your state. You need to make sure that they are meeting the necessary enhanced cleaning and deep cleaning requirements set forth by your local government.
Depending on your state regulations, operating your auto dealership safely during COVID-19 may also require that you eliminate objects like magazines and customer coffee machines to prevent contamination and spread of infection between cleanings. Additionally, if there are situations where an employee, vendor, or customer has been identified as having COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test, you should contact your state or local health department immediately for their specific disinfection and sanitation instructions. Please also see the CDC information on Cleaning and Disinfection After Persons Suspected/Confirmed to Have COVID-19 Have Been in the Facility.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Vehicles
Cleaning and disinfecting vehicles is always a good idea, but it is even more necessary for operating an auto dealership safely during COVID-19. The most common situations are as follows:
- When a vehicle is taken for a test drive
- When a used vehicle is traded in or received from an auction
- When a vehicle is brought in for service
- When a vehicle is returned to the customer after service
- When a vehicle is delivered to the purchasing customer
Follow the cleaning and disinfection steps outlined above, focusing on frequently touched surfaces, such as the door handles, steering wheel, seat buckles, gear shifters, wiper controls, turn signal, cup holders, buttons, knobs, and touch screens, armrests, grab handles, and seat adjusters.
NADA and CDC Recommendations for Auto Dealerships
According to the NADA, most of the disinfectants outlined above will clean a vehicle’s interior without causing damage. Alcohol will disinfect without damaging most plastic or painted chrome, but it will degrade leather or imitation leather over time. It is possible to clean the exterior surface of soft upholstery with alcohol. Bleach and hydrogen peroxide will damage upholstery, while ammonia-based cleaners will damage vehicle touch screens. Soap and water are effective; however, scrubbing too vigorously can cause soap to soak into the fabric and lead to mold growth or may remove dye from leather. Be sure to use a good leather cleaner and conditioner after cleaning leather upholstery, especially after disinfecting with alcohol.
CDC stresses that operating an auto dealership safely during COVID-19 requires dealers to work with their local and state health departments and ensure they are following appropriate local protocols and guidelines, including the identification of new potential cases of COVID-19.
Commercial Business Maintenance operates throughout Maryland, Virginia, and DC and specializes in auto dealership cleaning as well as other commercial property maintenance. Let us help you set your auto dealership or business apart from the others with superior commercial and retail cleaning service. Contact us today for a free estimate.